New Metro quarantine status known Monday

By Genalyn Kabiling and Martin Sadongdong

The new quarantine classification of Metro Manila and the rest of the country is expected to be announced Monday by President Duterte as the cases of infections continued to rise.

The President is scheduled to hold a meeting with several Cabinet members in Manila to tackle the government's pandemic response and deliver his public address afterwards, according to his spokesman Harry Roque.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

"Yes. Monday (in) Malago (clubhouse)," Roque said when asked about the President’s meeting and eventual announcement about the fresh quarantine level.

Metro Manila, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, has been placed under less restrictive general community quarantine (GCQ) until the end of the month after a two-week reimposition of a strict coronavirus lockdown.

Other areas under GCQ are Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Quezon, Iloilo City, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, and Consolacion and Minglanilla in Cebu. The modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the most relaxed in the government's four lockdown levels, remained in effect in the rest of the country until Aug. 31.

As of Aug. 29, the country has recorded 213,131 cases of coronavirus with 3,419 deaths.

As the lockdown has been relaxed to jumpstart the sluggish economy, the government recently moved to refresh its strategy by stepping up testing, tracing, and testing efforts. Duterte announced that the government aims to test 3.3 million individuals by September.

Roque said a place must have a case doubling rate of 28 days before it could shift to the MGCQ level. At present, coronavirus cases in the National Capital Region have doubled to every 9 to 10 days.

Asked if the GCQ status will be retained, Roque said: "That will be a decision of the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases) for which I cannot preempt them."

Galvez: OK to open economy

It is safe to ease the community quarantine restrictions to allow more economic activities as long as the COVID-19 safety protocols are followed and the number of deaths remains at a manageable level.

National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. stated this Sunday ahead of President Duterte's announcement of the new classification of community quarantine status in the country.

"For as long as we maintain the minimum health standards, at the same time maintain the rate of death into a minimum, kung mababa po ang rate of death natin ay puwede po tayong mag-open ng economy (if our rate of death remains at the minimum then we can open the economy)," he said.

Galvez said the government is training the public to inculcate in their daily lives the most basic of health protocols to keep them safe and protected.

He said the "popular support and popular obedience" of the public to the rules being set by the authorities are important in the country's fight against COVID-19.

Galvez used the Pareto doctrine in stressing the need to balance public health and the economy, which is the focus of the second phase of the National Action Plan (NAP), the government's overall response strategy to the pandemic.

"Using the Pareto doctrine, kailangan po more than 80 percent of our efforts should concentrate on really treating the people’s behavior towards the pandemic. Kasi nakita po natin ito, tatagal pa po itong pandemic na ito at kailangan ang ano po natin dito iyong people’s cooperation is very necessary (Because we saw that this pandemic will last for a while and the people's cooperation is very necessary)," he explained.

The Pareto doctrine describes a situation where no part can be better without the other part being worse. It states that roughly 80 percent of the effects of most events come from 20 percent of the causes.

For the economy to successfully open, Galvez said the minimum health standard should be religiously followed such as the wearing of face mask and face shield, and by practicing social distancing.